The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Sunday, January 29, 2006

What a small --and dangerous-- City

The Winnipeg Sun did a good job Saturday of tying together the threads of a series of seemingly unrelated crimes throughout the city.

We planned to do the same thing, but they left us only crumbs to work with.

But they're good crumbs, and worth sharing with you. We'll try to keep any overlap in stories to a minimum.

* Police say some men had a scrap at the Charleswood Motor Hotel early Thursday morning. They took it outside and one of them came up with a World War Two sten gun (where do you even get ammo for one these days?) and fired a few shots. A stray bullet flew into the Roblin Bakery and Pastry Shop and almost hit a night baker.

Twenty-year-old Garrett Gamble, of Ste. Anne, was arrested and charged with firing the gun.

* Just by coincidence, two days earlier, police arrested a good friend of Gamble's, Sandro Rocha, 26, of St. Andrews, in a parking lot near Simon's Niteclub at Logan and McPhillips. He was in a car along with 20 neatly packaged one-ounce bags of crack cocaine.

* Both men were out on bail while awaiting trial for the June, 2005, abduction of a suspected drug dealer, Kham Chanthalangsy, who was stuffed in the trunk of a car but managed to escape before finding out why he was being taken for a ride.Kham C. had the unfortunate knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

* For example, he and Rocha were in the same bar when a member of the Hell's Angels was shot in March, 2005. Given their later history, we presume they were at opposite ends of the trendy Corydon Avenue pub, Dirty Laundry, where the action took place.

Biker Billy Bowden was shot in the leg that night. And an associate shot his shooter. Police imply that Rocha may have been that shooter, seeing as how he showed up at hospital later that evening with a bullet wound to his leg.

* Kham's streak of bad luck didn't end there. Early Friday morning, Dec. 9, 2005, shortly after midnight, callers to 911 in Burnaby, B.C. reported hearing gunshots. Police arrived to find a body lying on the ground in the 4200 block of Southwood Street. He was only identified as "an Indo-Canadian in his mid-twenties."

Investigators soon had a name to put to the city's latest murder victim and the body of Kham Chanthalangsy was returned to Winnipeg. His funeral was Dec. 16. What effect Kham's death will have on the trial of Gamble and Rocha remains to be seen. You did get a statement from the alleged abduction victim on tape, didn't you, Mr. Morrison?

* Gamble is no stranger to the court system. He was facing a murder charge in a high-profile case a few years ago until a co-accused pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

* That same year a drug dealer pleaded guilty to firing a shotgun at a member of the Zig Zag Crew, the Hell's Angels farm team, in the parking lot of Simon's -- the very bar that Rocha used to own. He was a sloppy shooter and shotgun pellets hit not only his intended target but two innocent people as well.

According to the newspaper, Rocha is no longer connected to Simon's. For the past two years he has been a co-owner of Phatcat Video Rental on Sargent Ave.

* Last October, 17-year-old Phillip Haiart was walking through the parking lot of PhatCat Video when he was hit in the stomach by a bullet fired from a house across the street.

Gang members had started shooting at rivals and missed.
And Phil Haiart died.

He wasn't the target, any more than the baker in the Charleswood Bakery and Pastry Shop.

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